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Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission
Bureau of Archives and History
Pennsylvania State Archives




RG-33


Records of the SUPREME COURT OF PENNSYLVANIA

Series Descriptions


Eastern District

The Eastern District was initially created by Act of February 24, 1806 "for the more convenient establishment of the Supreme Court" and was composed of Adams, Berks, Bucks, Centre, Chester, Cumberland, Dauphin, Delaware, Franklin, Huntingdon, Lancaster, Lehigh, Luzerne, Lycoming, Northampton, Northumberland, Mifflin, Montgomery, Philadelphia, Pike, Potter, Wayne, and York counties. The District was assigned its own prothonotary, and the Supreme Court would hold session in Philadelphia on a regular basis to hear cases originating within the District. By Act of April 10, 1807, the Middle District was created, leaving only Berks, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Lancaster, Lehigh, Montgomery, Northampton, Philadelphia, Pike, and Wayne counties within the Eastern District. The Lancaster District was created in 1809, taking Lancaster and Berks counties away from the District as well. From 1826-1834 the Supreme Court rode the circuit, visiting each county throughout the state, but in 1834, per the Judiciary Act of April 14, the district system was reinstated, with the Eastern District initially being composed of the City and County of Philadelphia, and the counties of Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Northampton, Montgomery, Lehigh, Pike, and Wayne. Over time, counties were transferred to and from the district, which can be found in The of Laws of Pennsylvania. As of 2001, in order to redistribute the workload throughout the state, the Eastern District consists only of Philadelphia County.


Admission in Absentia Papers,
1955-1968.
(1 carton)

{series #33.1} [Holdings]

Arranged chronologically by date of admission, and thereunder alphabetically by surname of attorney.

A record of attorneys admitted to practice before the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. Included are lists of normal admissions, and separate sheets for each attorney admitted "in absentia." Both types of documents offer the following information: name, address and county of applicant; name of sponsor; and date of admission.

Admission of Attorneys Dockets,
1742-1935, 1970-1977.
(4 volumes)

{series #33.2} [Holdings]

Grouped alphabetically by first letter in applicant's surname, thereunder arranged chronologically by date of entry.

Lists of attorneys granted permission to practice in the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. In order to practice at this level, attorneys were required to have a sponsor. Information given includes names of attorney and sponsor, and date of admission. From 1903 on, either the county of residence or the place of admission of the attorney are also noted. At the end of the first volume (1742-1902) is a "List of attorneys of the Supreme Court of the Province of Pennsylvania admitted at various times previous to the Revolution," which is noted as having been copied from "Sheriff's Deed Book B," and which shows the names of the attorneys, and their dates of admission. For related records, see Admission of Attorneys Dockets for the Eastern and Middle Districts, 1872-1969 {series #33.191}.

Admission of Attorneys Papers,
1885-1970.
(13 cartons)

{series #33.3} [Holdings]

Arranged chronologically by term of motion, and thereunder alphabetically by surname of attorney.

Motions for the admission of attorneys to practice before the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, submitted by the attorney's sponsors, and filed with the Supreme Court Prothonotary. Motions typically list name of attorney, county of practice, date of filing, and signature of sponsor. In addition, motions filed before 1904 show number of years spent in clerkship and practice, and the name of the attorney directing the clerkship. After 1904, the motions are normally accompanied by certificates of the State Board of Examiners attesting to the candidate's good moral character and successful passing of the bar examination, and urging his admission. Additional information provided by these certificates includes date of certification, certificate number, the seal of the State Board of Law Examiners, and the signatures of the chairman and secretary. Other items sometimes found include court orders of admission, and oaths of good character that were sworn before a notary.

Affidavits,
1770-1806.
(1 box)

{series #33.4} [Holdings]

Arranged chronologically by date of affidavit.

Handwritten sworn statements relating to testimony for cases heard before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, or to the need for other documents to be acquired (usually from England) for use in the proceedings. Types of affidavits present include affidavits to grant writs of error, motions, judgments and court orders. Information given about each affidavit may include names of plaintiff and defendant, court term and case number; date of appearance; particulars about the case, such as the amount of debt or location of property involved; and signatures of the aldermen, justices of the peace, Supreme Court Justices, and the Prothonotary involved. The Prothonotary's dated endorsement is often the only legal evidence of the time of filing. Some of the papers have a filing date on them, but this is not a standard feature. Many of the affidavits correspond to writs of error from the High Court of Errors and Appeals to the Supreme Court. Of interest may be those signed by James Logan (1770) and Robert Morris (1795).

Affidavits of Defense,
1784-1808.
(2 cartons)

{series #33.5} [Holdings]

Arranged chronologically by date of oath.

These handwritten forms were used to show whether there was a just and legal defense to be made by the defendant against the claims of the plaintiff. This process was completed for hearing before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. The affidavits typically show dates of oath and of Supreme Court hearing; and the names of the litigants, and alderman or justice of the peace who witnessed the swearing.

Agreements,
1783-1811, 1814 & undated.
(24 folders)

{series #33.6} [Holdings]

Arranged chronologically by date of agreement.

A collection of various types of agreements, including agreements for judgment, change of case, a preemptory rule for trial or a change of jury, to plead, accept bail, appear, file writs of error and habeas corpus, test a writ of certiorari, change a writ of fieri facias to hiberari facias, set a date for trial, amend writs and narratives, enter judgment quod computet, proceed if the defendant has died, and change or delete names of plaintiffs, defendants, attorneys, or date of the agreement's filing. Of interest might be the cases involving Robert Morris (1792) and the Bank of the United States (1793). Also included are special verdicts and notices of bail.

Allocatur Docket Papers,
1961-1963, 1971-1984.
(139 cartons)

{series #33.7} [Holdings]

Arranged chronologically by year, and then numerically by Allocatur Docket number.

Petitions for allowance of appeal, and answers thereto, filed with the Prothonotary of the Eastern District of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. Information given by petitioners includes Allocatur Docket number; petition number; names of appellant and appellee; name and address of attorney for appellant; date of filing; and a note as to whether petition was granted or denied. Also included is background information on the case (including previous courts heard in, and past case terms and numbers assigned); a description of past proceedings and judgments (sometimes including copies of court orders, opinions, other appeals, evidence used, and so on); and a notarized affidavit, signed by the appellant's attorney, attesting to the truth of the above information. Information given by the appellees' answers to the petitions includes (the same) Allocatur Docket and petition numbers; names of parties; name and address of attorney for appellee; a brief counter history of the case; arguments for denying the appeal; signature of the attorney; and date of filing. Each petition is either accompanied by an answer, or by a letter from the appellee's attorney stating that no answer will be filed.

Allocatur Dockets,
1924-1954, 1971-2005.
(34 cartons, 2 boxes)

{series #33.8} [Holdings]

Grouped chronologically by year of court term, thereunder arranged chronologically by date petition was docketed. This order results in dockets being arranged numerically by docket number.

Dockets of cases from the Superior Court whose litigants petitioned the Supreme Court, Eastern District for a review hearing. The information contained in these dockets includes names of plaintiffs, defendants and their attorneys; the Superior Court case number and the term it was heard at that level; filing date of petition; date of acceptance or refusal; and other case information. If a case was accepted for review by the Court (exercising their discretionary jurisdiction), it was assigned an appeal docket number (see Appeal Dockets, 1979-2005. {series 33.178}). Cases falling within the Court's discretionary jurisdiction included those where two intermediate courts had opposing decisions or cases that posed open questions of law, among others. Cases of interest include the City of Philadelphia v. the Public Service Commission (1924); August Massett v. Armerford Coal Mining Co. and State Workmen's Insurance Fund (1924); Samuel Sejal v. Aetna Casualty and Surety Co. of Hartford; Employees Mutual Insurance and Service Co. v. Craig E. Pakradooni, [trading] as International Motor Co. (1925); and Hofueler-Stute Co. v. Cleveland Motor Sales (1928). Docket sheets dated after 2000 were printed from an electronuc database and may contain a report date postdating the docket date. Dockets postdating 2000 may also be found online through the Administrative Offices of the Pennsylvania Courts' website.

Amicable Actions Papers,
1782-1809.
(1 carton)

{series #33.9} [Holdings]

Arranged chronologically.

Papers relating to amicable actions, which were entered by agreement of both the plaintiff and the defendant into court dockets. The agreements in this file show names of plaintiff, defendant and their attorneys; and occasionally the grounds for the suit. While most of these agreements were filed with the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, some document the appeals process to the High Court of Errors and Appeals.

Appeal Dockets,
1979-2005.
(7 cartons, 1 box)


{series #33.178} [Holdings]

Grouped chronologically by year of court term, thereunder arranged chronologically by date appeal was docketed. This order results in dockets being arranged numerically by docket number.
Some years are indexed internally.

A record of appellate cases heard before the Supreme Court, Eastern District. Cases deal with issues falling under the Court's mandatory and discretionary jurisdiction. Cases within mandatory jurisdiction dealt with capital punishment, questions of constitutionality, finance and revenue, elections, and others. Cases within discretionary jurisdiction included cases where two intermediate courts had opposing decisions or cases that posed open questions of law, among others. Entries for each case list the court term, docket number, title of case, the nature of the case, the names of the attorneys for the appellant and appellee, the date the trial court record was filed, and dates of the filings and proceedings for the case. Docket sheets dating after 2000 were printed from an electronic database and may contain a report date postdating the docket date. Dockets postdating 2000 may also be found online through the Administrative Offices of the Pennsylvania Courts' website.

Appeal Papers,
1880-1983.
(283 cartons)

{series #33.10} [Holdings]

Arranged chronologically by court term.

Appeals and related papers filed in connection with appellate cases brought before the Supreme Court in the Eastern District. Types of papers found include petitions for writs of error, rules, depositions, judgment notes, agreements, receipts, notices of payment, bonds, contracts, recognizances, affidavits; and sometimes descriptions rather than copies of such documents. Information provided normally includes court term and year, appeal number, date of filing, names of parties and attorneys involved, and the nature of the case.

Appearance and Continuance Dockets,
1740-1795.
(19 volumes)

{series #33.11} [Holdings]

Arranged chronologically by court term.

Records of cases brought before the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania in the Eastern District. An Appearance Docket generally documents the initial proceedings of a case, while actions taken months or years later, after the appearance docket entry was completed, are listed in a continuance docket. Different types of dockets are found for different periods. From 1740 through September of 1795, the volumes may be either Appearance or Continuance Dockets, or combinations of both. From December of 1795 until 1829, there are generally both types of dockets for each term. From December of 1830 through 1837, however, only Continuance Dockets are found, while from 1838 on, all volumes are in the form of Appearance Dockets. Information provided by docket entries may include court term and case number; names of parties and their attorneys; names of county and lower courts from which the appellate case arose; a chronological listing of documents filed and proceedings held; and the court's decision on subsequent orders. For a more in-depth study of particular cases see the Appearance Papers, 1858-1879 {series #33.13}.

Appearance Dockets,
1795-1829, 1838-1977.
(139 volumes)

{series #33.12} [Holdings]

Arranged chronologically by term, then numerically by case number.
Dockets for 1954-1977 are indexed internally alphabetically by case name.

Dockets of appeals petitioned to the Supreme Court, Eastern District. Information given for each case includes the dates of returnable papers; arguments and opinions; the decision rendered; the names of the plaintiff(s), defendant(s), and their respective attorneys; and the corresponding case number. For eighteenth and nineteenth century dockets, the date that an original writ was issued by the Supreme Court, and whether it was a summons, capias or writ of error, is also noted. For further information on particular cases, see Appearance Papers, 1858-1879 {series #33.13}.

Appearance Papers,
1858-1879.
(18 cartons)

{series #33.13} [Holdings]

Arranged chronologically by date of papers.

A collection of documents relating to cases listed in the Appearance and Continuance Dockets, 1740-1795 {series #33.11} and Appearance Dockets, 1795-1829, 1838-1977 {#33.12} of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, Eastern District. Types of documents filed include attachments, pleas of garnishee, praecipes for attachment sur judgment, plaintiff's bills of cost, summons, rules to plead, recognizances sur appeal, rules of reference, certificates of reference, and praecipes for sums. Information typically provided by the papers for each case includes names of parties involved; court term and case number; dates and types of pleas entered; and more specific information about the case depending on the types and numbers of papers present.

Applications for Certificates of Admission to the Supreme Court,
1951-1966.
(1 carton)

{series #33.14} [Holdings]

Arranged chronologically by date of application.

Application forms used in accordance with Rules 16 and 18 of the Supreme Court, which require an attorney to obtain a certificate of admission when applying to practice in such jurisdictions as State Supreme Courts. On each application is a signed certification by a Common Pleas or Orphans' Court judge of the county where the applicant last practiced, attesting to his membership of that bar and to his good moral character. Information provided by the applications includes names and signatures of attorney and judge; name of former or current bar; attorneys' county of residence; and dates of application and judge's certification. See also Admission in Absentia Papers, 1955-1968 {series #33.1}, Registration Certificates of Law Students, 1903-1971 {series #33.96}, Admission of Attorneys Papers, 1885-1970 {series #33.3} and Registers of Law Students, 1903-1971 {series #33.97} for more information of this sort.

Assignment of Error Papers,
1819-1826, 1834-1880.
(6 cartons)

{series #33.15} [Holdings]

Arranged chronologically by date of assignment.

Statements by appellants declaring that a procedural or interpretation error has been made in a lower court case. These assignments normally show names of plaintiff, defendant, and attorneys in the case; the original court of jurisdiction; court term and case number; the errors being pleaded; and date filed. Included with the assignments may be specifications of error, which give a detailed account of all errors claimed in the case, as well as exceptions, depositions, and copies of paper books. Of interest may be the case "The Commonwealth ex rel the Attorney General v. The Erie Railway Co. (1871)."

Assignment of Judgment Papers,
1785-1786, 1790, 1795-1799 & undated.
(2 folders)

{series #33.16} [Holdings]

Arranged chronologically by date of assignment.

Assignments of judgment, in which a litigant assigned to a third party the rights, privileges, or moneys resulting from a judgment originally due to the litigant. Information provided by the assignment papers includes names of original plaintiff and defendant in the case from which the judgment originated; their attorneys, assignee(s), and witnesses; and the amounts in question.

Assignments of Error and Praecipe Writs of Error,
1752, 1757, 1782-1801 & undated.
(4 folders)

{series #33.17} [Holdings]

Arranged chronologically by date of document.

Documents relating to findings of error in lower court cases. The two types of papers most often found are Assignments of Error, which were declarations by an appellant that a procedural or interpretation error had been made in a trial, and Praecipes, directing the clerk of a court to issue a writ of error. (Writs of error were then served upon the judge of the lower court whose decision was in question, requiring him to submit a full record of the case to the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania). Information furnished by these two types of documents includes names of plaintiff, defendant, attorneys and clerks; court term and case number; and issues involved. Other document types sometimes included are petitions, recognizances, executions, and the actual writs of error.

Autograph File,
1683, 1767-1815.
(3 boxes, 1 folder)

{series #33.18} [Holdings]

Unarranged.

The documents within this series were extracted from their original series files in 1925 due to their unique historical value. They contain valuable autographs of national or state figures, including such notables as William Penn, George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, Aaron Burr, Henry Knox, James Madison, Henry Clay, Dr. Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, Jared Ingersoll, General Peter Muhlenberg, William Bingham, Gouvernoeur Morris, James Wilson, General Anthony Wayne, and Gilbert Stuart. Some of the documents contained in this series fill major gaps in the original series and include a land grant of 1683, inventory sheets of real estate for attained citizens, papers relating to various court cases, depositions of Benjamin Franklin and Henry Clay, rules of court, petitions, affidavits, and recognizances.

Bail Papers,
1794-1803.
(9 folders)

{series #33.19} [Holdings]

Arranged chronologically by date of papers.

Documents relating to the setting of bail by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, including certificates of bail, exceptions to bail, justifications of bail, and certificates of surrender. A certificate of bail required responsible sureties who bound themselves to satisfy the plaintiff's debt and costs, or to surrender the defendant into custody, provided judgment was against him in the action. If the defendant objected to this special bail, he filed an exception to bail. The reply of the plaintiff was the justification of bail. Certificates of surrender show names of defendant, plaintiff, Sheriff, the keeper to the Debtor's Apartment, and the person who provided bail surety; as well as the amount of bail. Other documents included are agreements to accept bail; and affidavits of notice to enter bail, and to hold bail. Some of these documents bear numbers which may correspond to case numbers. Bails are set as low as $800 and as high as $20,000. Of interest may be the cases involving the President and Managers of the Schuylkill and Susquehanna Navigation Company (1799), and Torre Brothers (1800), a Philadelphia trading company.

Bail Pieces,
1751-1760, 1812.
(1 folder)

{series #33.20} [Holdings]

Arranged chronologically by date of documents.

Documents certifying that bail has been set and paid for the defendant of a particular case. Information shown includes names of defendant and person who paid bail; counties of residence and occupations of same; by what writ the defendant appears; date of bail piece; and signature of the clerk or Prothonotary. Of interest might be the piece of April 1752 in a suit involving William Bird, the owner of Hopewell Furnace, and the bail piece dated 1812, where bail was set at $2,300. In conjunction with this, see the series Bail Papers, 1794-1803 {series #33.19}.

Bills of Cost,
1786-1826.
(13 folders)

{series #33.21} [Holdings]

Arranged chronologically by case.

A record of fees charged to defendants and plaintiffs to cover court expenditures, traveling and lodging for witnesses, and expenses of commissioners, if any were required for the case in question. The file also includes related documents such as subpoenas, attachments, lists of returnable cases of issued subpoenas, and lists of subpoenaed people and witnesses. Of interest may be cases involving Robert Morris and Pennsylvania's Surveyor General, Samuel Cochran.

Bills of Exception,
1829-1876.
(12 folders)

{series #33.22} [Holdings]

Arranged chronologically by date of bill.

Statements of objection made by litigants with regards to decisions made by the court on a point of law. The object of these bills was to put the questions of law on record for the information of the Court of Error. The documents were originally filed with the District Court for the City of Philadelphia, and the exception cases were then heard by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. Information given by the bills includes names of plaintiff and defendant; type of plea; exception to law; date of trial, and of filing of the bill; opinion of the lower court; and a case brief. Cases represented include Fisher et.al. v. Tucker et.al. (1851), McClellan v. Beatty (1829), Ingraham v. Cavicabura (1849), McKebbin v. Martin (1869), and Whipple v. The Philadelphia Railroad Co. (1876).

Bundles of Miscellaneous Court Papers With Index,
1790-1883.
(12 cartons)

{series #33.23} [Holdings]

Documents are arranged by bundle number. Within each bundle, dates of the papers may range anywhere within the 1790-1883 date span.

Various documents filed with the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, including petitions, transcripts, maps of streets and land tracts, copies of opinions, affidavits, wills, charges of the court, and the Orphan's Court Rules for Northampton County in 1842. Of interest may be a writ of error from the United States Supreme Court authorized by Chief Justice Roger B. Taney in the 1860 case of The Pennsylvania Railroad Company v. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and papers concerning the case of Charles Fatman v. Armstrong County, Pennsylvania (1862). Also included is a series previously titled Reports, 1814-1885, which contains reports of Auditors, Examiners and Masters.

Capias Papers,
1780-1820.
(11 cartons)

{series #33.24} [Holdings]

Arranged chronologically by date of writ, and thus chronologically by writ number as well.

Writs of capias, sworn to be returnable to the Supreme Court, directing the Sheriff to take a defendant into custody. These writs were used to enforce compliance with the summons of an original writ or with some judgment or decree of the Court. There were many types of capias writs, that were frequently issued in cases of injury committed by force or fraud and extended to other cases. Information provided by the writs includes names of defendant and plaintiff; occupations of both; date of presentment; type of plea; and case or document number. Also included in these cartons are writs of scire facias, and attachments.

Cases Stated File,
1783-1793 & undated.
(1 folder)

{series #33.25} [Holdings]

Arranged chronologically by date of statement.

Written statements of the facts involved in cases brought before the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, accompanied by various supporting documents. The facts stated were agreed upon by both the plaintiff and defendant, and the statements themselves were submitted to the court for judgment without a jury. Types of cases involved include attachment, trespass, ejectment, probation of wills, and neglect to pay import duties. Information provided includes names of parties, court term and case number, nature of case, and amounts of debt and property involved. A writ of error may or may not lie on the judgment rendered in these cases.

Certiorari and Habeas Corpus Papers,
1753-1775, 1777-1787.
(4 cartons)

{series #33.26} [Holdings]

Arranged chronologically by date of papers.

These papers were used together as a way to appeal a lower court's verdict. The Certiorari papers requested transcripts from a higher court to a lower court for review of the proceedings. The Habeas Corpus papers were writs used to bring a person before a court or judge, having as its function the release of a party from unlawful restraint. Information given on the certiorari includes names of plaintiff and defendant; names of attorneys and date filed. Additional information in the records may include the county where trial was originally held; court term; narratives stating the particulars about the case; and receipts for court costs. Pre-Revolutionary entries of these records begin by recognizing George III as the reigning monarch.

Citations,
1825-1826, 1828.
(1 folder)

{series #33.27} [Holdings]

Grouped by case.

A citation is a writ issued by a court commanding a person to appear before that court, much like a writ of capias, summons, or subpoena. This file documents five cases for which citations were issued - four probate cases, and one in equity (Clark v. Geyer). The citations for the probate cases were prompted by petitions of individuals trying to bar the fulfillment of the wills, and command witnesses to come before the court to aid in the selection and appointment of trustees. Information provided about each case includes names of plaintiff, defendant, former trustees, and designated trustees; and the nature and details of the proceedings.

Claims Docket,
1778-1779.
(1 volume)

{series #33.28} [Holdings]

Arranged chronologically by date of entry.

A record of cases heard and adjudged in the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania against citizens accused of high treason. The cases involve claims made against the real and personal estates of the accused. Information given includes names of plaintiff, defendant, claimant, witnesses, and attorneys; amount of claim or debt; and date defendant acquired debt or property. Defendants include Oswald Eve, Joseph Galloway, and others. This type of legal action grew out of Chapter 784 of an Act of Assembly passes March 6, 1778, entitled "An Act for the Attainder of Divers Traitors if They Render Not Themselves by a Certain Day, and for Vesting Their Estates in this Commonwealth, and for more Effectually Discovering the Same and for Ascertaining and Satisfying the Lawful Debts and Claims Thereupon." A supplement was passed March 29, 1779, as Chapter 832. Other chapters relating to divesting forfeited estates include Chapters 818, 829, and 854. For further information, see the following series in this record group: Papers in Attainder Relating to Estates Forfeited by Treason, [ca. 1778-1791] {series #33.80} and Claims Papers Relating Primarily to Forfeited Estates, 1778-1791, {series #33.29} as well as series in the record group for the Office of the Comptroller General.

Claims Papers Relating Primarily to Forfeited Estates,
1778-1791.
(2 cartons)

{series #33.29} [Holdings]

Arranged chronologically by date of claim.

Claims of estates forfeited due to the owners' conviction for high treason committed during the American Revolution. Documents filed, both British and American, include claims, decrees, bonds, and statements of the net assets of the estate. Information provided by these documents includes names of claimant and claimee; amount of debt; reason for forfeiture; and the location and value of real estate that may be forfeited. Two documents of 1781 specifically cite debts owed by General Benedict Arnold. Clear documentation of the legal process by which claims were made against forfeited estates can best be seen in the files of Samuel Biles, Oswell Eve, Gideon Vernon, Christian Hunt, James and William Rankin, John Jones, Richard Swanwick, and Christopher Wilson.

Commissions,
1810-1817.
(1 folder)

{series #33.30} [Holdings]

Arranged alphabetically by document title, and thereunder chronologically.

An attachment is a legal process by which the property of an absent debtor is seized for the purpose of compelling an appearance, or, in default of an appearance, to pay the debt to the plaintiff. Often accompanying the attachments in this file are commissions, which are basically certificates appointing one or two persons as investigators to gather information about the case from witnesses. Some of these people were sent as far away as Great Britain and China. Interrogatories, or lists of the questions they asked, are also sometimes included. Information provided by these documents includes names of plaintiff, defendant, attorneys, commissioners (investigators) and witnesses; term and case number; nature of case; and filing dates of the papers.

Common Recovery Papers,
1761-1824.
(1 volume)

{series #33.31} [Holdings]

Arranged chronologically by date of papers.

Papers relating to cases of common recovery brought before the Supreme Court in the Eastern District. Common recovery was a type of conveyance (transfer) of land from one person to another in cases when a demandant wished to create an absolute bar of a situation known as estates-tail (wherein only a certain class of a decedent's heirs were eligible to inherit the estate). This volume includes entries which contain copies of summonses served to the defendant by the appropriate county Sheriff, copies of the Sheriff's endorsement affirming that he had taken the actions ordered, monetary receipt records, and descriptions of the circumstances leading to the trial. Information provided includes names of parties (tenant and demandant), summoner, Sheriff and Prothonotary involved, and the date of the trial. Pre-Revolutionary entries in this volume begin by recognizing George III as the reigning monarch.

Consular Representative Directory,
1950-1976.
(1 folder)

{series #33.198} [Holdings]

Arranged alphabetically by country represented.

Directory of consular representatives registered with the Commonwealth in accordance with Pa.R.C.P. Rule 1124(c). Information includes the name and address of the consular representative, the title of the representative, date of registration, and additional remarks. For related records, see Consular Representative Directory, 1950-1973 {series 33.183} within the Middle District.

Continuance Dockets,
1795-1837.
(15 volumes)

{series #33.32} [Holdings]

Arranged chronologically by court term.

Dockets that list subsequent actions taken and papers filed in a case after the initial entry in another docket. Information given includes names of plaintiff and defendant; original court term; and nature of the actions.

Coroner's Inquisition Papers,
1751, 1768-1796.
(1 carton)

{series #33.33} [Holdings]

Arranged chronologically by filing date.

Reports of inquisitions conducted by a County Coroner and a twelve man panel who had viewed a body attesting to the cause of death. These inquests determined the need for criminal prosecutions, and were used as the basis for conviction at the grand jury inquest if needed. Information provided includes name of decedent; date and cause of death; date of inquest; and county in which it took place. Causes of death listed include criminal acts (assault, murder); medical problems (poison, drinking water, apoplexy, flu, burns, fits, palsey, opium overdoses, and suffocation); and accidents (drowning, being hit by falling trees and logs, sleepwalking out a window, falling from buildings, horses, ladders, and chairs, or into wells, and being run over by wagons or horses, or both). Other causes listed are suicide, natural causes, and "upon the visitation of God." Places where inquests were conducted include Berks, Bucks, Chester, Cumberland, Delaware, Northampton, and Northumberland Counties, and Philadelphia. Other documents sometimes included with the inquisitions are Sheriff's Inquests and Grand Jury Inquests for Oyer and Terminer in Bucks County, death verifications, and witness depositions.

Declarations,
1749-1802 & undated.
(19 folders)

{series #33.34} [Holdings]

Arranged chronologically by year of case. If no case year is identified, then listed by date filed.

Statements of the specific reasons why a plaintiff had brought suit against a defendant. Information provided by these declarations includes names of plaintiff, defendant, attorneys for the State of Pennsylvania, and other attorneys involved; nature of the case; a description of pleas entered; and amount of debt, if any, in question.

Declaration of Intention Dockets,
1819-1870, 1873-1875, 1881-1906.
(11 volumes)

{series #33.35} [Holdings]

Arranged chronologically by date declaration was sworn.

Volume 1, 2 and part of "11/12" are indexed internally, alphabetically by surname of the alien, and thereunder chronologically by date of entry. All eleven volumes are also indexed externally by the Index to Declaration of Intention Docket, 1832-1901 {series #33.53}, which appears to index entries through December 2, 1901. The declarations docketed thereafter are not indexed.

Dockets containing oaths, sworn before the Prothonotary of the Supreme Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, affirming an alien's intention to become a naturalized citizen, and renouncing all allegiance to any foreign government. Data provided by the Declarations of Intention in the bulk of the series, September 24, 1832-September 24, 1906, includes name, native country, age, former monarch and signature of the alien; date of appearance; whether the alien resided in the county or city of Philadelphia; and the signature of the Prothonotary of the Supreme Court. The entries appear as standardized printed forms, with blanks into which the information was handwritten. The first volume, July 18, 1819-August 11, 1832, differs from the others, both in types of entries as well as types of information presented. It is only here that separate oaths of Allegiance appear, mixed in amongst the Declarations. In this volume, a Declaration of Intention consisted of swearing one's intent to merely settle and reside in Pennsylvania while still owing allegiance to one's former monarch. It was the separate Oath of Allegiance that actually renounced all foreign allegiances and conveyed the intent to seek United States citizenship. Sometimes both a Declaration and an Oath appear, one after the other, for the same person. In other instances, only one or the other appears. In these latter cases, it would seem that the aliens either filed the missing statement with a different court, or perhaps never followed through with the whole procedure. Data provided by the Declarations of Intention in volume 1 includes name of alien, country of birth, age, monarch to which his allegiance was owed, date of immigration, at which port arrived, city or county of residence, intended place of settlement, and signature of the Prothonotary. Names and birthplaces of immigrating family members may also be shown. Data provided by the Oaths of Allegiance about persons declaring their intention to seek citizenship includes only name, native county and signature of alien; name and country of former monarch now being renounced; and names of the Superior Court or Nisi Prius Justice and Prothonotary before whom the person appeared.

Debit Sans Breve Papers,
1802-1805, 1810-1812.
(8 cartons)

{series #33.36} [Holdings]

Arranged chronologically by date of filing, and thereunder numerically by document number.

Applications for payment of a debt without a writ or declaration. Included for each case is a statement by the plaintiff or defendant declaring that the defendant is indeed bound to the plaintiff for a certain amount of money, and also a warrant of the defendant's attorney certifying that his client does not deny his obligation to the plaintiff. Information provided by the papers includes names of plaintiff, defendant and their attorneys; occupation and county of residence of debtor; and amount of debt. Notes of further actions taken are sometimes found on the back of the documents.

Depositions,
1778-1828.
(19 folders, 1 carton)

{series #33.37} [Holdings]

Arranged chronologically by term, then by case number. If no term or case is identified, then arranged by date of earliest deposition for that case.

Sworn statements relating to cases brought before the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, given by witnesses unable to attend the trial. Information furnished by the depositions includes names of defendant, plaintiff, attorneys, justices, and commissioners involved; and the nature of the case. Sources of depositions taken out of state include New York, New Jersey, Virginia, Kentucky and Russia. Supporting documents include articles of co-partnership, manifests, bills of exchange, indentures, interrogatories, and letters to the Secretary of War. Cases of interest include a slander case involving Silas Deane, the Congressional Purchasing Agent in France; a case of purchased war materials involving Benedict Arnold; and a case file concerning laws dealing with the occupation of Philadelphia, which includes minutes from Congress, 1778. Other cases involve the following persons and organizations: Stephen Girard; Captain Thomas Randall; John Russ; The Bank of North America; the Bank of the United States; The Insurance Company of Pennsylvania; the Philadelphia Insurance Company of North America; the Lower Dublin Township School; and the Congregation of Seventh-Day Baptists at Ephrata. Also documented are cases involving French privateers and staff officers of Rochambeau, including Robert Morris (Holker v. Morris, 1785), the depositions for which are accompanied by legal documents from France. Finally, there is an entire volume dedicated to the libel case of Levett Harris v. William D. Lewis. Papers present include depositions from President John Quincy Adams, John C. Calhoun, and William H. Crawford, which were taken from Washington, DC; Flemington, New Jersey; New York; St. Petersburg, and Archangel, Russia. Two of the depositions of Adams appear to bear authentic signatures. For other documents relating to these cases, see the series entitled Commissions, 1810-1817 {series #33.30}.

Discontinuance Papers,
1783-1800.
(18 folders)

{series #33.38} [Holdings]

Arranged chronologically by year and term..

Requests for the discontinuance of a judgment made to the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania by satisfied plaintiffs. Most cases represented involve payment of debts. Information provided includes names of plaintiff, defendant, attorneys, and the Prothonotary of the Supreme Court; and sometimes a description of the nature of the case or amount owed.

Distringas Juratores Papers,
1797-1815, 1823-1825.
(6 folders)

{series #33.39} [Holdings]

Arranged chronologically by date writ was issued.

Writs, issued to County Sheriffs, commanding that they deliver the annexed list of jurors and distrain them by their goods and chattels. This would then force the jurors to appear on the appointed day. These writs were issued at the same time as the venire, working as a secondary process if a juror neglected the first call. Information provided by the writs includes names of jurors called; nature of the case to be heard; pleas entered; and dates of the trial.

Distringas Returnable Papers,
1768-1775.
(1 folder)

{series #33.40} [Holdings]

Writs directed to the appropriate County Sheriff, commanding him to distrain the goods and chattels of a person in order to enforce their compliance with a court order or decree. Information provided includes names of plaintiff, defendant, and jurors; nature of the decision; and listings of when the issued writs would be returnable to the court, usually the Court of Nisi Prius within the defendant's county. Counties involved include Carlisle, York, Lancaster, Reading, Sunbury, and Bucks. Also included with the writs are venires for trial, and a list of delinquent jurors.

Divorce Papers,
1786-1815.
(3 cartons)

{series #33.41} [Holdings]

Arranged alphabetically by surname of the couple.

Case files for divorce cases brought before the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania in the Eastern District. Documents filed may include petitions (libels) for divorce, subpoenas for divorce, interrogatories, depositions, and decrees for divorce. In the divorce process, the original petition was made to the Supreme Court, accusing either the wife or husband of a particular marriage offense, and asking the Court to force his or her appearance before the justices. The Court would then issue a warrant for the appearance of the libellee, and questions would be drawn and statements taken for the libellant and libellee. The Court would then render its decision. Information provided by these papers includes names of the couple; date married; court term and case number; and reason for divorce.

Ejectment Index,
1857-1874.
(1 volume)

{series #33.42} [Holdings]

Arranged alphabetically by surname of defendant. Corporations are indexed separately.

An index to ejectment cases recorded in the Court Dockets and Equity Dockets of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. (Ejectment is a legal action to regain the possession of real property with damages for its unlawful detention). Information listed includes names of defendant, plaintiff, and attorneys; dates of entry, and of the filing of the original bill; court term and case number; and type of docket where case is recorded. Cases of interest may include those involving railroad land holdings

Equity Dockets,
1837-1874.
(4 volumes)

{series #33.43} [Holdings]

Arranged chronologically by date of entry.

A record of equity in the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. Docket entries were generally begun one or two terms before the case was actually brought before the court. Entries provide such information as names of defendant, plaintiff, attorneys and witnesses involved and a listing of dates and types of documents filed or rules and judgments rendered. Some of these cases are indexed in the Ejectment Index, 1857-1874 {series #33.42}.

Equity Papers,
1836-1875, 1877, 1880.
(23 cartons)

{series #33.44} [Holdings]

Arranged chronologically by date of filing.

Papers relating to equity cases brought before the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania in the Eastern District. Types of papers filed include decrees, bills in equity, answers, replications, motions, subpoenas, injunctions, praecipes, and paper books. Information provided for each case includes court term and case number; names of parties and attorneys involved; nature of case; and outcome. Cases of interest include "Fargo v. Oil Creek and Allegheny Railroad" (1875), "Mayor, Aldermen and Citizens of Philadelphia v. the Commissioners of Spring Garden, et.al." (1844), and "Dundas, et.al. v. Biddle, et.al." (1844). For more information about equity cases, see the series Bundles of Miscellaneous Court Papers with Index, 1790-1883 {series #33.23} and Equity Dockets, 1837-1874 {series #33.43}.

Escheat Papers,
1796-1822.
(11 folders)

{series #33.45} [Holdings]

Arranged by case file according to the year the writ was issued. This series was originally arranged in chronological order by the earliest document date with some case papers added.

On September 29, 1787 "An Act to Declare and Regulate Escheats" became law. According to it, the law established a process by which the Commonwealth would incorporate the real and personal property of persons who died intestate or without heirs. For the execution of this, the Supreme Council commissioned an Escheator-General; specifically John Nicholson (also Comptroller-General), Clement Biddle, and William Irwin. A deputy was appointed for each county. Deputies mentioned include Thomas Sergeant (Bucks), Isaac Darlington (Chester), Robert Porter (Montgomery) and Collinson Reed (Berks). These officers held an inquisition and rendered a decision concerning the escheated property. Inquisitors were warranted by the county sheriff and testimony of witnesses was taken. If the escheators court found no claim or will the property was turned over to the state. Otherwise, claimants were to appear at the next session of the Supreme Court. This process was changed by act of Assembly on April 2, 1821 when the auditor general assumed duties of the escheator general and the Courts of Common Pleas replaced the Supreme Court. Documents included in this series are: Inquisition Returns, Warrants, Claims on Estates, Testimony, Jury Lists, Estate Inventories, and Certificates of Marriage. Also within this series are commissions for the deputy escheators and for the Secretary and Deputy Secretary of the Commonwealth from the governor. For further information see records of the Department of the Auditor General and records from the Office of the Comptroller General.

Estreat of Fines Papers, and List of Tavern and Marriage Licenses Issued,
1780-1782, 1803-1827.
(3 folders)

{series #33.46} [Holdings]

Unarranged.

An estreat is a true copy or note of some original statement or record (particularly fines and amercements), imposed by a court, extracted from the record, and certified to a proper authority who is required to keep the copies on file. These estreats are copies of documents sent to the Comptroller General from the City Court of Philadelphia, and from the Courts of Quarter Sessions and Oyer and Terminer of Philadelphia, Berks, Chester, Northampton and other counties. Included are lists of fines and recognizances, records of marriage, tavern and public house keepers' licenses, minutes of the Court of Oyer and Terminer for 1807, attachments, subpoenas, precepts, and bench warrants.

Exceptions to Reports,
1784-1812, 1814.
(5 folders)

{series #33.47} [Holdings]

Arranged chronologically by filing date of exception.

In equity cases an exception is an allegation of a party, in writing, that some pleading or proceeding was insufficient. Most of the documents in these files are exceptions to judgments of referees or auditors, were filed with the Prothonotary of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, and list the reasons why a report was incorrect and should not be accepted. Information given includes names of plaintiffs, defendants, Philadelphia aldermen, and the Prothonotary involved; the nature of the case; and the relationship of the action to the standing rules of law. One case of interest is "The President, Managers, and Company of the Delaware and Schuylkill Canal Navigation Co. v. Gershom Johnson and George Benner."

Execution Dockets,
1786-1873.
(9 volumes)

{series #33.48} [Holdings]

Arranged chronologically by date of docket.

Records of Supreme Court cases in which the execution of the Court's judgment was carried out to enforce payment of debts. Information provided by the dockets includes names of plaintiff, defendant, and their attorneys; suit and court costs; and the nature of the judgment and of the action of the court to recover costs.

Execution Papers,
1780-1837, 1839-1875.
(15 cartons)

{series #33.49} [Holdings]

Arranged chronologically by date of writ.

A collection of various types of writs issued by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania in order to enforce (execute) its judgments, usually by means of debt or court cost collection, or completion of ejectment. The writs were directed to County Sheriffs, who were responsible for their execution. Included are writs of testatum fieri facias, fieri facias, levari facias, liberari facias, habere facias possessionem, and vendituri exponas. Information given includes names of plaintiff and defendant; court term and case number; nature of case; and amounts of debt and court costs owed. After 1860 the writs may be accompanied by other papers, such as praecipes, petitions, affidavits, motions, orders, depositions, and reports. See the Execution Dockets, 1786-1873 {series #33.48} for initial case references, and Graydon's "Forms of Conveyancing and Practice" for a detailed description of the uses of writs.

Fieri Facias Papers,
1788-1820.
(4 folders)

{series #33.50} [Holdings]

Arranged chronologically by year.

A writ of fieri facias is a writ of execution, issued to satisfy a plaintiff by levying on the goods and lands of the defendant. It is issued following a judgment and is sent to the appropriate County Sheriff who must endorse it. From the time of the endorsement, a lien then exists against the defendant's property. A writ of capias ad satisfaciendum is issued by the court for the purpose of compelling the defendant to appear by the return day of the writ in order to answer the plaintiff's demand. Both types of writs in this series were issued by, and returnable to, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. The use of such writs changed after 1836 with legislation abolishing imprisonment for debt. Three types of fieri facias writs are included: writs for debt, case, and costs. Also included with the writs are related inquisitions. Information provided includes names of plaintiffs, defendants, Sheriffs and inquisitors involved; amount of debt; and a description of the defendant's property holdings. Cases of particular interest include those involving the Federal Government, and the Farmer's and Mechanic's Bank.

General Correspondence of the Prothonotary,
1800, 1805-1822 & undated.
(1 box)

{series #33.51} [Holdings]

Arranged chronologically by date of letter.

A file of letters sent to Joseph Reed or Joseph Barnes, both Prothonotaries of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. Topics of correspondence include notifications of judgments in error, attorneys seeking admission to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court bar, the transmission of copies of cases, reports on collecting internal tax duties, adherence to recent judiciary laws of Pennsylvania, the removal of cases, and notifications of judgments in error. Some of the letters were sent from the Office of Auditor General George Bryan. Information given may include the names of the county court officials and parties involved in a case; judiciary laws involved; and dates for the circuit court.

General Motion and Divorce Docket,
1750-1837 (Divorces 1800-1805 only).
(1 volume)

{series #33.52} [Holdings]

Arranged chronologically by date of entry.

This docket contains two separate sections, one being a record of rules, resolves and orders of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, and the other, a record of divorce cases brought before that court. The section entitled "General Motions" (1750-1837) documents the administrative workings of the Supreme Court by listing decisions made concerning general procedures, as well as specific cases. Topics include dealing with writs of habeas corpus and certiorari; pleas by general issue; new trials in arrest of judgment; admission of attorneys; the exchange of pleas and responses; filing times for affidavits; acts of assembly pertaining to the court; the setting or court dates for the Supreme, Circuit and Nisi Prius Courts; and the deaths and appointments of Chief Justices, Associate Justices, Prothonotaries, Criers, Commissioners of Bail and Tipstaffs. Of particular interest is a libel case brought against Eleazer Oswald, publisher of "The Independent Gazetteer or the Chronicle of Freedom" (1782). The "Divorce Docket" (1800-1805) contains copies of original petitions for divorce, as well as of the Court's judgments. Information provided includes names of husband and wife; reason for filing the divorce petition (abandonment, adultery, cruelty, previous unended marriage, etc.); names of referees; and the nature of the final judgment.

Index to Declaration of Intention Dockets,
1832-1901.
(1 volume)

{series #33.53} [Holdings]

Arranged alphabetically by surname of the alien, and thereunder chronologically by date of entry.

A partial, external index to the 11 volume series Declaration of Intention Dockets, 1819-1870, 1873-1875, 1881-1906 {series #33.35}. Volumes 2-10, and part of 11/12 of that series are indexed by this book (volume 1 has an internal index of its own, while the entries in volume 11/12 after December 2, 1901 appear to be unindexed). Information provided for each name includes volume and page number references to where the individual's Declaration can be found.

Index to Naturalization Papers,
1794-1824, 1842-1868.
(2 volumes)

{series #33.54} [Holdings]

Arranged alphabetically by alien's surname, and thereunder chronologically by date of entry.

An index to the Naturalization Papers, 1794-1819, 1821-1868 {series #33.75} filed with the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania in the Eastern District. Information provided by entries in Volume 1 of the index (1794-1824) includes name of alien, date of admission as a citizen, and occasionally the filing date of the declaration of intention. Volume 2 (1842-1868) shows names of aliens and numbers of their petitions for naturalization, although all of these petitions were not necessarily accepted.

Insolvent Debtor Papers,
[ca. 1789-1805, 1812-1814].
(7 cartons)

{series #33.55} [Holdings]

Arranged alphabetically by surname of debtor, and thereunder chronologically by date of filing.

Papers relating to insolvency cases brought before the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania in the Eastern District. Types of papers filed include petitions; bonds; assignments; renunciations of assignments; debt schedules; and certificates of discharge, reference, and naturalization. Information provided includes names of debtor, creditor, assignee and arbiter; amount of debt; and references to relevant insolvency laws. Included is an alphabetical index to insolvent debtors, listing names of debtor and creditor, and the filing date of the petition for insolvency.

Interrogatories,
[ca. 1787-1827].
(3 cartons)

{series #33.56} [Holdings]

Grouped chronologically in sections covering roughly ten to twenty year periods, and thereunder arranged alphabetically by surname of plaintiff.

Lists of questions for witnesses beyond the jurisdiction of the court, asked by a court-appointed commission, and answered in the form of a written deposition which then served as evidence at the trial. Information provided by these lists includes names of plaintiff, defendant, and witnesses; a description of the nature of the case; and the questions asked. Requests for specific people to serve as commissioners may also be recorded. A more complete view of this process may be obtained from the series Commissions, 1810-1817, {series #33.30}.

Journals,
1895-1898.
(1 box)

{series #33.57} [Holdings]

Arranged chronologically by date of entry.

Log books of appearances in the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania in the Eastern District listing names of plaintiff and defendant, court term and case number, a brief description of the proceedings, and the journal entry number. In the back of each volume are lists of the cases tried by each justice giving journal entry numbers, and bearing notations when that particular justice also wrote the decision.

Judgment Dockets,
1756-1896.
(12 volumes)

{series #33.58} [Holdings]

Arranged chronologically by court term and alphabetically by case title.

The twelve volumes of indices contain the following information for each judgment: case title, court term when judgment was rendered, page number, and sometimes additional information on the settlement.

Judges' List Books, Assignments and Related Papers,
1957-1976.
(1 carton)

{series #33.59} [Holdings]

Arranged randomly.

A record that documents the names and assignments of judges. Information given in the List Books show the names of Supreme Court, Common Pleas, and County Court judges; the court where they preside; and date in which their term expires. The Assignments primarily consist of correspondence requesting a change of venue or reassignments due to judges' retirements. The related papers contain information from the Auditor General reporting lists of salaries and expenses paid to traveling judges (1976).

Judicial Assignments (Active and Retired Judges),
1960-1974.
(14 cartons)

{series #33.185} [Holdings]

Arranged by year.

Contains docket assignments for active judges and requests for judicial assignments from retired judges. Each assignment includes the judge's name, assigned district, appointed position, and duration of appointment. See also Judicial Assignment Papers, 1976, 1978 {series #33.197}.

Judicial Assignment Papers,
1976, 1978.
(2 folders and 1 package)

{series #33.197} [Holdings]

Arranged by year.

Papers include docket assignments and requests for assignments for the years 1976 and 1978. Each docket and request contain the judge's name, the assigned district, the appointed position, and duration of appointment. See also Judicial Assignments (Active and Retired Judges), 1960-1974 {series #33.185}.

Judicial Assignment Registers,

1911-1954, 1960, 1966-1969.
(1 box)

{series #33.60} [Holdings]

Arranged chronologically by entry date of first assignment.

A record of temporary assignments given to judges of common pleas courts in Pennsylvania. According to the Pennsylvania law "An Act for the Assignment of Judges to Districts Other Than Their Own, for the Purpose of Expediting Business, with Provision for Their Compensation," any judge of any court of common pleas, who could spare the time to sit in the courts of another district for the disposal of business, and who was willing to do so, was supposed to file with the Prothonotary of the Supreme Court a statement of which weeks or months he was willing to accept assignments. The Prothonotary, in turn, was required to keep a "Judicial Assignment Register" to record the name of each judge and the periods he could work. Once a judge had been assigned, the Prothonotary would then enter information concerning the period and location of work. At the end of the assignment, the judge was required to file a report with the Auditor General specifying the name of the court served in, where it convened, the number and nature of cases heard, and number of days served. Information provided by the actual registers includes name of judge; permanent district; all districts assigned to; dates of assignments; names of persons requesting the assignments; dates of requests; and occasional notes.

Jury Lists,
1798-1838.
(17 folders)

{series #33.61} [Holdings]

Arranged chronologically by date case was docketed.

Lists of jurors from the Court of Nisi Prius, which was held by Justices of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. Included are both special and regular jury lists which generally provide the following information: names, addresses and occupations of the potential jurors; names of plaintiff, defendant, and their attorneys; and the date the jury was struck (created). Some of the names have been crossed off the list by the attorneys as part of the striking process. Some of these cases are docketed in 1798, but the striking of the jury did not occur until later (resulting in as much as a 21 year wait within the judicial system). For more information about the Courts of Nisi Prius, see the series Nisi Prius Records and Postea, 1764-1775 {series #33.76} and the compendiums of John Purdon or Frederick Brightly. More information about specific cases can be obtained from the Supreme Court dockets which are indexed.

Jurymen's Excuses,
1805-1815.
(1 folder)

{series #33.62} [Holdings]

Arranged chronologically by filing date.

Excuses sent to the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania from men chosen to sit as jurors at the Court of Nisi Prius. Information provided by the letters includes the name of the perspective juror and the reason he could not participate. Reasons given include illnesses, such as rheumatism, fever, head disease, and dysentery; occupations which required his presence, such as medical assistant, dock worker, apothecary, ferry keeper, notary public, and superintendent of a water works; illness in the family; or absence from the area. Some of the excuses were sent in by doctors or neighbors of the individual summoned. Other documents found include jury summons, jury fines, and an order to the Court of Nisi Prius for a grand jury.

List of Cases for Argument,
1878.
(1 box)

{series #33.195} [Holdings]

Grouped chronologically by date the session commenced, thereunder arranged numerically by case number.

The Honorable John Trunkey's copy of lists of cases for argument brought before the Supreme Court, Eastern District, from January-March 1878 at Philadelphia. Data recorded includes the date arguments were heard; court term and case numbers; names of parties and attorneys involved; and the means by which the case came to the Supreme Court (by writ of certiorari, etc.). Many pages are torn and scribbled, and it appears that all records relating to the Thirteenth Monday of Term have been removed. Cases were heard from Philadelphia, Berks, Bucks, Lehigh, Bradford, Luzerne, Schuylkill, Susquehanna, Wyoming, Chester, Delaware, and Montgomery counties.

Mandamus and Quo Warranto Proceedings,
1782-1815, 1827-1855.
(10 folders)

{series #33.63} [Holdings]

Arranged chronologically by date of case file.

A record of proceedings of Supreme Court cases involving the issuance of writs of mandamus or quo warranto. A mandamus was issued as a last resort to an official, compelling him to perform some act recognized by the law as a duty of his office. A quo warranto was issued against a person, corporation, franchise or office, summoning the defendant to court to explain his claims on the office. Other documents sometimes included with these writs are interrogatories, depositions, affidavits and letters of witnesses relating to the case, as well as motions of mandamus, returns to mandamus, certified copies of rules to show cause, printed duties of a Catholic priest, Acts of the Pennsylvania Assembly, booklets and proceedings of the Associate Presbytery of Pennsylvania, and Acts of the Associate Synod in Scotland. Information provided by each case file includes names of plaintiff and defendant; court term and case number; dates of writs and other papers; and type and nature of case. Groups, many religious, involved in the cases include the Trustees of the Religious Society of German Roman Catholics of the Holy Trinity Church of Philadelphia, the Baptist Society, the Associate Presbytery of Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Beneficial Society, the German American True Loving Brotherhood Sacrety, Trustees of the African Methodist Episcopalian Church, and the County Commissioners of Philadelphia. Also appearing are letters from the Bishop of Baltimore and the Right Reverend Doctor John Carroll.

Minute Books,
1806-1816, 1819-1981.
(16 boxes, 24 volumes)

{series #33.64} [Holdings]

Arranged chronologically by date of session.

Minutes of cases heard by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania and the Court of Nisi Prius in the Eastern District. Information provided includes: justices present or absent; date of session with respective times of convention, recess, and adjournment; and details of cases submitted, cases discontinued, quashed appeals, judgments on non-pros entered; cases remanded to a lower court; judgments and opinions filed, cases argued, and cases continued from previous sessions. Details provided for each case include: names of the plaintiff(s), defendant(s), representing attorneys and jurors; charges and/or complaints against the defendant; justices who did not participate in the case; whether a dissenting or concurring opinion filed; party responsible for costs associated with the appeal; and whether the appeal was affirmed or reversed. Some entries are marked as to whether or not the case continues, or as to whether it was heard in the Supreme Court, or in Nisi Prius. Other items of interest, such as induction ceremonies, memorial services, admissions to the bar, and portrait presentations, are also noted. Minutes dating from 1952-1981 are from the Supreme Court, Eastern District only.

Minutes,
1788, 1793, 1795-1800, 1802-1804.
(1 box)

{series #33.65} [Holdings]

Arranged chronologically by date of session.

Minutes taken at sessions of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania in the Eastern District. Information provided includes names of plaintiff and defendant; pleas entered; location of original indictment and trial; names of jury members; and nature of judgment rendered by the jury.

Miscellaneous Case Papers,
1810-1813.
(3 cartons)

{series #33.66} [Holdings]

Arranged chronologically by court term.

Records of cases decided by the Court, or by arbitration, including amicable action suits. Materials from the same case are normally filed together and may include pleas in abatement, affidavits of defense, subpoenas, narratives, rules of reference or arbitration, replications, court opinions, certificates of reference, amicable action papers, and reports. Information given about each case includes names of plaintiff, defendant, arbitrator, and attorneys; details of the case; and nature of the settlement.

Miscellaneous Docket Papers,
1876-1974.
(64 cartons, 1 box)

{series #33.67} [Holdings]

Arranged chronologically by court term, and thereunder numerically by case number.

Papers relating to cases listed in the "Miscellaneous Dockets" of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. Documents filed include petitions, motions, opinions, indictments, paper books, submissions, and reports. Information provided includes court term and case number; names of parties; nature of case; and dates of docketing and filing. Of particular interest are the following cases: "Commonwealth of Pennsylvania ex rel Ira H. Burns b. John Handley and Alfred Hand, Judges of the Court of Common Pleas of Lackawanna County" (1884), "City of Lancaster b. City of Lebanon" (1900), and the Homestead Steel Strike Cases (1892-1893).

Miscellaneous Dockets,
1921-2005.
(8 cartons, 4 boxes, 13 volumes)

{series #33.179} [Holdings]

Grouped chronologically by year of court term, thereunder arranged chronologically by date petition was docketed. This order results in dockets being arranged numerically by docket number.
Dockets for 1921-1977 are indexed internally alphabetically by case name.

Dockets of miscellaneous cases brought before the Supreme Court, Eastern District that are not direct appeals or allocatur petitions. Cases may include requests to appeal an order that is not appealable, requests for bail, requests for stay of an order, and others. Information includes docket number, title of case, names of the attorneys for the petitioner and respondent, the dates of the filings and proceedings, and corresponding notes. Some dockets provide the nature of the case. Information provided depends on the type of case. Docket No. 16 also includes Administrator Docket No. 1 for 1969-1970 as well as Rule 219 Non-Payment of Dues Orders for 1985-1988. Docket sheets dating after 2000 were printed from an electronic database and may contain a report date which postdating the docket date. Dockets postdating 2000 may also be found online through the Administrative Offices of the Pennsylvania Courts' website.

Miscellaneous Papers,
1704-1899.
(3 cartons)

{series #33.68} [Holdings]

Arranged chronologically by date of filing.

Miscellaneous court records and documents, including deeds, wills, estate papers, narratives, pleas, recognizances, depositions, inquisitions, petitions, assignments, and all types of writs. Also present are charters for churches and organizations. Of interest may be cases involving the Bank of North America, the Bank of the United States, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and many railroad companies within the state.

Miscellaneous Records of the Supreme Court of Nisi Prius,
[ca. 1770-1800].
(45 volumes)

{series #33.69} [Holdings]

Artificially arranged the Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania as follows: "Beyond a partial attempt to arrange them by counties they are here presented in a chaotic condition, with the hope that the index may enable the searcher to find the wheat concealed among much chaff."

Indexed internally in volume 44, alphabetically by surname of person involved in Supreme Court Proceedings. This index inaccurately and incompletely references the previous volumes. Volume 45 is indexed internally, alphabetically by surname.

These records were originally presented to the Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania after the basement of the State House in Philadelphia was cleared out in 1895. These records were then compiled and deposited by the Genealogical Society with the Pennsylvania State Archives. This is a series of volumes that contains a wide variety of miscellaneous Supreme Court records. Some types of records include Court Minutes; Coroner's Inquisitions; Proceedings in Cases; Lists of Marriage, Public Housekeepers, and Tavern Licenses issued. Volume 45 contains the "Pa. Sunday Court Records," which contain records of Fines and Forfeits, Tavern Licenses, Return of Public Housekeepers Recommended and Marriage Licenses. Some pre-Revolutionary records exist and identify George III as the reigning monarch.

Miscellaneous Supreme and Superior Court Dockets,
1743-1749, 1876-1943.
(5 volumes)

{series #33.70} [Holdings]

Arranged chronologically by date of entry.

Records of various types of cases brought before the Superior or Supreme Courts of Pennsylvania. Information provided by the entries includes names of plaintiff and defendant, type of case, proceedings and dates thereof, nature of the judgment, and the locations of related case papers. Of interest may be the written addresses in memoriam of Chief Justices Henry Greer and James P. Sterrett, as well as the address given for the presentation of portraits of the Justices.

Motion Dockets,
1888-1940.
(5 boxes)
{series #33.71} [Holdings]

Arranged chronologically by filing date of motion.

A record of motions filed with the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania relating to cases heard, or scheduled to be heard, before the court. Information shown includes names of plaintiff, defendant, and their attorneys; type and date of petition or motion filed; date writ was issued; the argument heard or hearing refused; court term and case number; and the original filing date. Some cases refer to previous dockets where further information may be provided. Some also refer to the Miscellaneous Docket Papers, 1876-1974 {series #33.67}.

Motion Sheets for Miscellaneous Dockets,
1963-1974.
(2 cartons)

{series #33.72} [Holdings]

Arranged numerically by Miscellaneous Docket number and then roughly chronologically by date.

A record of petitions filed for the Miscellaneous Docket of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania relating to cases heard, or scheduled to be heard, before the Court. Information given on the sheets includes names of plaintiff and defendant and type and date of petition filed and subsequent actions taken. For further information see Miscellaneous Docket Papers, 1876-1974 {series #33.67}.

Motions and Rules,
1789-1829.
(13 folders)

{series #33.73} [Holdings]

Arranged chronologically by date of motion or ruling.

A rule is an order, made by the court and drawn into form, which is obtained by the application of a party or his counsel. The request for a rule takes the form of a motion, which must normally be sustained by an affidavit. The motion is entered, either for a rule to show cause why a certain action should not be done, or for a rule absolute. The rule is then taken on motion, and a time is fixed for the argument. When the rule is taken, notice is given to the opposite party in the case, the matter is heard, depositions are taken, and the rule is then either discharged or made absolute. These files contain related rules and motions, as well as exceptions, opinions of the court, and other papers relevant to particular cases. Information provided about cases represented includes names of plaintiff and defendant, and types and dates of motions and rules made. Of particular interest may be the papers relating to "Campbell v. Bowman."

Narr (Narratio) Papers,
1796-1873.
(15 cartons)

{series #33.74} [Holdings]

Arranged chronologically by court term, and thereunder numerically by document number.

Narrative statements by plaintiffs setting forth the causes for bringing suit, and revealing the nature of the case (Narr is an abbreviation for the Latin "Narratio"). These papers may also be know as "Declarations." Information given includes names of plaintiff, defendant, and their attorneys; court term and case number; type of crime involved; and dates sworn and filed. Of particular interest may be Narratio 496, for "The Bank of the United States v. Bond" (1799). For more information about specific cases, see the relevant dockets, as well as the related writs, depositions, executions, and affidavits.

Naturalization Papers,
1794-1819, 1821-1868.
(16 cartons)

{series #33.75} [Holdings]

Arranged chronologically by date of petition.

Petitions of aliens for naturalization filed with the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. Information provided by these documents includes name of alien; native country; length of residence; name of former sovereign; name, residence, and a signed statement of a witness attesting to the petitioner's good moral character; and the alien's signed oath to support the Constitution and to renounce all allegiance to any foreign power. Sometimes the following information is also noted: date of declaration of intention (after 1841); immigrant's native city, province and occupation (1790's); and port and year of entry (1860's). Sometimes, especially from 1840 until 1860, the petitions are accompanied by declarations of intention. For further information see the series Declaration of Intention Dockets, 1819-1870, 1873-1875, 1881-1906 {series #33.35} and Index to Naturalization Papers, 1794-1824, 1842-1868 {series #33.54}; as well as Naturalization Lists of the Supreme Court and Courts of Nisi Prius, 1740-1773 {series #21.10} of Pennsylvania's Provincial Council.


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